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|Technical colleges witness spike in enrollment|
Positive economic development news throughout northeast Louisiana helped Louisiana Technical College Region 8 reach a record enrollment.
That's according to LTC Region 8 director Norene Smith, who said LTC officials are ecstatic over the enrollment increase for the fall. As more economic development activity occurs in northeast Louisiana, LTC officials expect enrollment will continue to increase.
The seven Louisiana Technical College campuses in northeast Louisiana have a total of 2,580 students enrolled for the fall 2009 semester. For the first time ever, the Delta-Ouachita campus, located in the West Ouachita Industrial Park, exceeded 1,000 students. The Delta-Ouachita campus enrollment is up 163 students over last fall's enrollment when the campus had 840 students registered.
"Delta-Ouachita has hit an all time high," Smith said. "We knew it would be up."
"Usually when unemployment is high our enrollment goes up," she said. "But, I think it has been a double incentive (to enroll) with all the industry coming here. People are excited about all this economic development activity and they're getting geared up and prepared for it. People realize the opportunities that will be available, and they realize the importance of being prepared."
Smith said all seven LTC Region 8 campuses have shown growth compared to last fall's enrollment numbers.
Overall, the seven LTC campuses in Region 8 had 306 more students compared to last year for a 13.5 percent increase. She contributed the growth to people encouraged by the potential for additional jobs from companies such as V-Vehicle, Gardner Denver Thomas and Foster Farms.
"With the tremendous economic development that is taking place in our region, people are taking advantage of the technical training provided on our technical college campuses," Smith said. "The high demand for workers who receive a two-year degree, a technical diploma or national certification is reaching our area. Through quality training or retraining, we can supply skilled workers who are ready to meet the needs of these businesses and industry."
Francis Thrasher, LTC Region 8 spokeswoman and instructor at the Delta-Ouachita campus, said more people in the community realize the amount of training that is required to secure these new jobs. Many people are seeking that training at the various LTC campuses, she said.
LTC Region 8 officials are working with Louisiana Economic Development Corp.'s FastTrack team to identify workforce training needs for new businesses, Smith said.
LED told LTC officials that over the next three to five years, "We will be absolutely blown out of the water with the training that's needed," Smith said.
She said local industry representatives have been telling LTC Region 8 officials they need people who possess an associates degree, which LTC Region 8 now offers in four trades programs. Gardner Denver Thomas representatives told LTC administrators the company needs more people trained to work with its machines. LTC Region 8 has begun offering training in machinery to provide employees for the expanded Gardner Denver Thomas facility.